Self-defense expert shares rationale behind protective gear, accessories he doesn’t leave home without.
Story and Photos by Paul Pawela
Everyday carry equipment is very personal, and I have decided to break my silence on what my EDC consists of for the readers of American Shooting Journal. I am doing so for one very good reason: Violent crime is at a staggering point in the US with a historic rise in homicides in 2020, and again in 2021. In preparing for armed self-defense or tactical situations, far too many people simply buy a gun and consider themselves prepared. But this is far from the truth, as hardly anyone trains from the perspective of being in an ambush encounter. As instructor Rob Pincus states in his bestselling book, Counter Ambush: The Science of Training for the Unexpected Defensive Shooting, these kinds of encounters are “surprising, chaotic and threatening, and thus, this is how you should train and arm yourself accordingly.” In this article I will cover what I believe are the most important components of my EDC, with the what, the why, and the how.
AS FAMED INSTRUCTOR Massad Ayoob states, the golden rule in safety rescue equipment is that each piece must fulfill three criteria:
In choosing a firearm (the what), my personal choice is the Glock 17, and as a backup, I carry the Glock 26. Why? They meet Ayoob’s three criteria, and they are readily available. Glocks run forever and are some of the most dependable pistols. You can buy a used one and it will still run forever. Also, 9mm ammo is readily available, and it eats all types of 9mm ammo.
My primary Glock 17 is the third generation with modifications. The grip was professionally stippled by Veritas Tactical, giving me a better grip should there be blood in the fight (hopefully not my own). I also have TruGlo Tritium Pro sights on the slide; the front sight is a big orange dot, and the rear is two bright green dots. Underneath the slide is my TLR-1 Streamlight, which has 300 lumens with strobing capability. I have a KKM barrel, which is one of the most accurate barrels on the market (many of the top competition shooters use it), and a Ghost trigger, which gives me a 3.5-pound trigger pull. On the slide of my gun, I have laser-engraved my company name and logo, Assault Counter Tactics with halo wings;
the other side is again the halo wings with the Latin inscription Acta Non Verba, which translates to “Actions, Not Words.” This is just in case I ever have to identify it as mine, if it is ever stolen or is taken by law enforcement in the event of a justified shooting.
For the magazines, I use the Glock 19X 19-round magazines; with one round in the chamber, I have a total of 20 rounds in the gun. For defensive rounds, I am using Pilgrim 9mm +P 115-grain hollow points that have a velocity of 2,000 feet per second. The recoil of the round is next to nothing, which translates to more rapid hits on target; the reason why the FBI went back to the 9mm was recoil management. The bullets are so lightweight that having 19 rounds of them in the Glock 19X magazine almost feels like there is nothing in it at all, which makes it easier for everyday carry. (Author’s note: Look for a devoted article on ammunition in an upcoming issue.) My backup gun is the Glock 26, with the same stippling and laser engraving from Veritas Tactical as my Glock 17.
Truth be told, for the longest time I hated the 26 because it failed the suitability test for me. With the standard Glock 26 magazine, it just never felt comfortable in my hands; that was, however, until I discovered Magpul’s PMAG 12. This is a slightly longer and extended magazine than the original, holding 12 rounds. It forms the perfect fit in my hands, and if need be will also mate nicely with the spare 19X magazine I carry, or the 30-round Glock magazine I have at home.
THE HOLSTERS I put my Glocks in must do a couple of things. They must allow for easy draw and re-holstering; they must be secure; and they must be comfortable. I have a general rule: If I am carrying one to four hours, then it is inside-the-waistband carry, and my choices for IWB are custom Kydex. I have used CrossBreed, L.A.G. Tactical, and recently I was introduced to Tap Rack Holsters by my good friend, exDelta Force and CIA operator Dale Comstock.
Also Tap Rack Holsters is an advertiser in American Shooting Journal and I try to support our advertisers as much as possible! All are great holsters and I switch them out often, depending on my attire. As of late, the Tap Rack Holsters have been going with me a lot due to the fact that I have been carrying a TacLight for the 17, and they made me a custom holster for it. They also made a left-handed custom 26 holster for my backup. The guns are secure, and the clips make them easy-on and easy-off. If I am using a leather holster, it is from Andrews Custom Leather, as I have been using Sam Andrews’ products for over 40 years now. (Author’s note: Look forward to an upcoming article on Andrews soon, as well.) All the above-mentioned holster makers have outside-the-waist band options as well, and I have one from each of these companies. So, any time I plan on having my holster on for more than four hours, I will switch to one of these OWB holsters.
THE STATE I reside in is Florida, and under statute 790.061, with my concealed carry license I am allowed to carry pretty much anything concealed, including “fixed blades.” I have already dedicated an entire article to Bastinelli Knives (American Shooting Journal, January 2021) and have used them for real in an automobile rescue to cut seat belts and deflate an airbag after a major accident. I have a dozen Bastinelli knives that I would bet my life with, any one of them. For horizontal carry, with easy-on/easy-off Kydex sheaths that secure the knife, I find myself going back and forth between Bastinelli’s Chopper and the Askari as my favorite primaries.
My backup is the Telum, carried either in a boot or nondominant pocket. The Telum is a wicked double-edged knife that also makes a great thrower if needed. You might ask, why the dagger? The Spartans were asked the same question and their answer was, “Because we fight close to the enemy.”
I wear 5.11 tactical jeans because they are made with comfort and fighting in mind. In my pockets are several items, including a very worn Streamlight 88061 ProTac flashlight that has been washed accidentally hundreds of times and it keeps on working. I also carry a Benchmade Mel Pardue axis-opening, pocket folding knife engraved with the Military Police symbols and its motto. I received this knife when my granddaughter was sworn in as an MP. I attach a D-ring to one of my belt loops, which is used for my car keys, but it could also act as a makeshift tourniquet in conjunction with the handkerchief I also carry. Lastly, a spare 19X Glock 20-round magazine is carried in the specifically built spare magazine pocket of my 5.11 jeans.
For years I have advocated leather gun belts, with Andrews Custom Leather and CrossBreed being the ones I used the most. However, as of late I have been using Kore nylon belts that can be adjusted to fit your specific needs all the time. One of the most important parts of your body is your eyes, and mine are always protected by Oakleys. I have been using them for over 20 years now, and yes, I have prescription Oakleys now as well. Other EDC items I will mention are not tactical accessories, but rather reminders of why I carry. For the love of God, my family and country. I never go anywhere without my necklace with the cross on it. On my iPhone is a picture of my lovely wife. On my left hand I have my 9-Line/Rockwell Tactical watch that proudly displays the American flag. And lastly, I carry a bracelet that honors my twin granddaughters serving in the military. These are my main EDC components, but don’t forget about the training aspect of self-defense preparation. If you go to the Assault Counter Tactics website (assaultcountertactics.com), under scenario training you will find 12 scenarios we use for training for shoot/don’t-shoot situations. They are all based on real-life civilian documented incidents. How do I know? They were all mine! And that’s my two cents.